For most of us, saying “Thank you,” has become a rote practice in our everyday lives. We say it over meals, to our barista who serves up our morning latte, and to the person ahead of us who holds open the door. But if we’re really looking to make a difference in the lives of others, we’ve got to take a close look at ways of practicing gratitude that truly impact another’s life.
I recently was reminded of how powerful expressing gratitude can be. I was reading about a man in Kansas City who has been saying "thank you" to the teachers that left a lasting impression on his life by sending them sums of money and thoughtful, personalized notes about what the impact was. In response, one of his teachers, Marilyn Meacham, told ABC News: “Gratitude is something in this society that we just don’t get enough of. It’s made me stop and think, ‘Who do I want to thank?'”
It’s true, gratitude is contagious — and as part of you wanting to make a difference in the lives others, you might want to consider carrying out random acts of gratitude on a regular basis. It will mean more to the person than you realize.
It is truly a win/win situation. The person you are thanking benefits from your expression of gratitude. You feel good for having helped someone feel good. And, they in turn often reach out to pay their gratitude forward.
So where to you begin? To get you started, here are five ideas for expressing random acts of gratitude. Remember: gratitude does not just happen. We are connected to others and to every moment that we are living. This commitment to living in the present moment and recognizing the power of positive thinking — about ourselves and about others — is what will allow abundance into our lives.
1. Write or email a thank-you note out of the blue.
Think of three people who have truly made an impact in your life — a friend who encouraged you to keep going when it seemed your business idea was failing, the teacher who helped you find your gifts, a buddy who held your hand through tough times, your parents on your birthday for giving your life … You get the idea.
2. Throw a gratitude party.
Years ago, when I was going through a divorce, I was especially grateful for the friends and family who held our hands through the challenging times. To celebrate their generosity, I held a “Thank You” party on the Friday before Thanksgiving. I wanted my friends to feel celebrated and the evening was filled with spontaneous toasts of gratitude.
3. Give small, totally-unnecessary notes to your co-workers (or others who you see every day).
Leave them on their desks or somewhere visible when they aren't watching. This will boost the positive energy for everyone in your office and help your colleagues know how much the little things — and big — they do to help you every day.
4. Surprise a friend, colleague or relative.
Make a fun plan. Maybe even treat them to lunch, dinner or a glass of wine. Do this with the sole purpose of having a good time, and making an intentional decision tell this person face-to-face how much they mean to you.
5. Give a donation in honor of a friend or family member.
Your friend, mentor or family member has made a significant impact in your life. Now, you can become the hero they need by supporting a cause close to their heart and making a donation in their name. This is a powerful way of recognizing the meaning of things outside of yourself, while also honoring another individual in the process.
If you’re looking to create abundance in your life, I’ve got one suggestion: Be thankful, find the blessings, and practice feeling and expressing your gratitude for everything and every person who has made a difference in your life — in the past and now in the present. The secret I’ve discovered: All things are possible when you develop an attitude of gratitude.